I’m an extroverted, independent, creative type.
And somehow, when it came to work, my independent nature beat out my extroverted nature and I became one of those people who work from home.
I love the autonomy and freedom that comes with not clocking in at an office each day, but I also have to confess—I miss people!
While writing and social media (irony) are solitary activities, one other aspect of my career is far from solitary and for that I am grateful.
There is almost no work more collaborative than acting.
When I take part in acting projects I experience the antithesis of my daily life alone in my home office. I am surrounded by people. I am emoting tons of energy at people. I am even forced to smell people when I sometimes would rather not. ;-)
It’s gritty and it’s exhilarating.
When I complete a fulfilling acting project I’m reminded of the importance of community. Every creative needs to actively seek out collaboration—even if your work is ultimately a solo endeavor. We are not meant to do life in a vacuum. And we are not meant to create art in a vacuum.
No matter what kind of work lights you up, here’s why collaboration is essential:
- Accountability. For the first time in my life this year I’ve begun working on some writing projects with a partner. Arguably the best part of the collaboration has been that there is someone who is expecting something of me by a certain date. It’s different than a boss with a deadline. It’s someone who is holding me accountable for creative output. We’re a team. We’re creating something together. Whether you want to collaborate on a project with someone or just need accountability, I encourage you to join a creative group. Maybe it’s a writers group or illustrators or musicians. Whatever it is, create a group (2 or more people count in my book) and get some accountability. Assign deadlines. It will bring a new sense of motivation and duty to completion.
- Encouragement. Whether it’s positive feedback on the work you’ve created or just encouragement to keep going, we all need support in our lives and creative work. Don’t dismiss your innate desire for encouragement as narcissistic. It’s natural to get energized by encouragement. In the same way that it brings you joy to lift someone else up, let others lift you up. Creating work alongside others can be encouraging as you work together and see progress being made. Whether working on a piece collectively or working on separate projects, collaboration and community foster encouragement.
- Inspiration. Enthusiasm is contagious. Gathering around a table with people who are doing work that is exciting and interesting to them never fails to inspire me. Maybe I’m feeling creatively stunted or burnt out. Simply being around others who are not is energizing. And what about the refreshment that comes from simply getting a fresh pair of eyes on your project? Let others in on your creative process and get inspired to go in new directions.
- Connection. C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’” No matter what kind of “creative” you are, no matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, we all need that connection. It can be scary to be vulnerable but on the other side of that fear is a place where you are actually known. It’s worth the risk.
So I challenge you today to build community. Foster connection. You can even begin by shooting someone an email and asking him to review something you’ve written or seeing if a fellow creative is free to grab lunch. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of isolation but life and art-making is a much richer experience in community.
Have you found community enriching in your own life? I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments.